The authorities have forced about a thousand people into the streets after seizing their land in Lộc Hưng parish. More than 200 families now live in conditions of extreme poverty. The victims have bee repeatedly threated. For Bishop Oanh, "Let us continue to act as disciples of Jesus".
Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – The victims of land seizures in the Lộc Hưng Garden (Vườn Rau Lộc Hưng) area have been meeting every night since the start of the Marian month to recite the rosary and ask for the Virgin’s solace.
Between 4 January and 11 May, the authorities in Ward 6 and the People's Committee of Tân Bình District had almost 500 houses (pictures) demolished, throwing a thousand people into the streets. Located in the heart of the city, the area is part of the Lộc Hưng parish.
Enticed by the land’s growing commercial value, municipal authorities and "interest groups" want to speculate on the sale of the land and for this reason had it expropriated.
More than 200 families now live in conditions of extreme poverty. Local Catholics have been repeatedly threated by the authorities. The fate of children, who cannot attend school, is also a cause of serious concern.
"My house was destroyed on 8 January 2019,” a woman told AsiaNews. “I could not take away our belongings or my children's clothes. At present, with about US$ 200 a month, I can't afford to rent a small house in the Tân Bình district. I could only afford one in Hốc Môn, at around $ 50 a month. From there, I take my children to school every day to Tân Bình. My family now lives in extreme poverty."
A 12-year-old child recounts the provocations and humiliations he suffered at school. "This morning, the teacher asked me to read an article on the ‘Liberation of the Lộc Hưng’ in front of thousands of students. I said no because it said that ‘the people who used to live there now are bad’. My house was demolished. My parents are not bad. My family had lived there with my grandfather for a long time.”
Catholic devotion to Our Lady runs deep across the country. In May, which is dedicated to Mary, worshippers of all ages participate in numerous floral offering (Dâng Hoa) ceremonies in every church in honour of the Mother of Jesus. This also happens in Lộc Hưng parish.
"We come to pray to Our Lady every day,” said one boy, adding “Let us pray for peace and justice in Vietnam."
Three days ago, Mgr Micae (Michael) Hoàng Đức Oanh, bishop emeritus of Kontum, paid a visit to the area. In February, he had celebrated a Mass for local parishioners, inviting them to "offer our sufferings to God, who is a shining light for us."
"Let us ask God to bless you,” Mgr Oanh said, praying at the statue of Our Lady with the faithful, on the second Saturday of the Marian month. “You are not fighting for this land, you are doing it for the country, Vietnam. May the government realise how to respect justice and truth.”
"Let us pray first of all that God may bless you through Our Lady Mary. Let us continue to act as disciples of Jesus. This is an opportunity for each of us to become one. Through your works, may the authorities and those who have approached us understand that we are serving justice and truth, so that this country may be peaceful and happy."